If every Temple fan did his or her part and converted one or two non-Temple fans to the Temple game experience, I firmly believe crowds would significantly increase—at least over the short term.
So, whenever I can, I do my part.
I won a pair of Temple tickets on a radio show (thanks, Zach Gelb) early this year to the 97-degree game (Stony Brook) and mentioned that to my weekly tennis group and asked if anyone wanted to go. I immediately got a pair of hands raised and a couple of new Temple football fans, if not forever, then certainly the rest of the year. Those two guys had such a good time have paid their way to two home games since. They have not made the tailgate portion of the game experience yet, but getting them into the stadium was the important thing.
This past week, I convinced one more to take my regular ticket in Section 121 because I wanted to sample the Club Level experience for the first time since Bernard Pierce was carted off the field against Army and that was a long time ago. Then, I was sitting in the stands trying futilely to ignite a couple of “Let’s Go Temple” cheers while my fellow Owl partisans mostly sat on their hands. At the time, I decided it was time to go back to Section 121 where at least half of the fans were heavy into the cheering culture.
I did not return until Friday night against USF.
With a Club Ticket in my hand on Friday, another friend gave me a “field pass” so I spent the first half down on the field (actually, the front row of the end zone) sitting next to former Brown University football player Kyle Rettig. Kyle is the 26-year-old son of a former great Temple tight end, Joe Rettig, and he and I led the group of Temple students behind us in a few “Let’s Go Temple” chants. Even though Kyle currently lives in Clearwater and did not graduate from Temple, he is more of a Temple fan than a USF fan and it was good to see him put family before Geography.
By the half, it was time to use my Club Level seats.
That was another eye-opening experience, completely different from my last Club Level experience.
Now I know where most of the fans are in the “announced” crowds exceeding 25K, a part of the crowd that journalists do not see when they claim Temple is “inflating” attendance figures.
There were seemingly thousands (maybe high hundreds, but a lot) of fans who did nothing but sit on comfortable padded couches and chairs and tables in the Club Level watching the game on perhaps the biggest (and best) screen HDTV screens I ever saw. (We commoners below only get to watch on small screen plasma TVs and have to stand in the lower concourse to do it.) I turned around and there was my (at least Facebook) friend and former Temple great Joe Greenwood sitting all by himself on one table. Probably no one there other than me remembered how good a safety Joe Greenwood was for Bruce Arians.
Hell, who wants to go into the stands when you can see the game this well with that much detail?
“Joe, I didn’t think you’d be here with the hoi polloi,” I said. “I’m usually in the stands.”
Three USF fans behind me were sitting at another table and went nuts when Marlon Mack scored his touchdown to make it 37-30. I made sure to turn around to them after the Owls picked off a pass on the next series.
“That’s Temple TUFF,” I told them.
They did not laugh.
The Temple game experience at the new Temple Stadium will be totally different than the one fans have experienced at Lincoln Financial. I guess if you can funnel those thousands of fans used to years of comfort on Club Level concourses back into the seats and cheering with the non-hoi polloi, it would be a good thing.
Or maybe you lose those high-rollers entirely to the comfort of their homes and own big-screen HDTVs if you build a no-frills $126 million stadium. It’s a hard question with no easy answers.
Friday: Tuberville’s Last Stand